Why The WNBA Is Rubbing Their Hands With Caitlin Clark's Arrival

March 27, 2024

Photo credit: John Mac, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Caitlin Clark will be playing for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes in this year’s NCAA Tournament and her presence is one of the event’s biggest attractions. 

Since she declared herself for the 2024 WNBA draft, interest in this rising basketball star has exploded. So why is her move to the pro league expected to create such a huge impact? 

Who Is Caitlin Clark?

Born in Des Moines, Caitlin started playing basketball at a young age, playing in boy’s leagues because she couldn’t find a girls’ league to join. As she grew up, Caitlin was often put into teams ahead of her age group and enjoyed a sparkling high school career with Dowling Catholic High School.

Interest in her continued to grow as she joined the Iowa Hawkeyes and carried on smashing records thanks to her all-action playing style and ability to pick out three-pointers. The 6-foot point guard is now the all-time NCAA Division I points scorer and has broken records like the number of three-pointers and assists in a season.  

Last year, Caitlin drove the Hawkeyes to their first-ever NCAA championship game. Although they ultimately lost to LSU 102-85, she broke the record for the number of three-pointers made by a man or woman in a championship game and also broke the scoring record for an NCAA tournament. 

This year, the number one-seeded Hawkeyes will be hoping that their star player drives them to their first championship. If you like the idea of predicting what happens, you can find out how to bet on March Madness in Iowa and give support to Clark’s run in Women’s March Madness 2024. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments are made up of 68 teams that are divided into regions and given a seeding. You can bet on the overall tournament winner or look at the odds for specific games. 

What Is the Caitlin Clark Effect?

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Caitlin Clark has revolutionized women’s basketball. While this sport has been expanding in recent years, the emergence of the highly skilled and versatile Clark has led to more people tuning in to watch Iowa play. In fact, she’s become more popular than any of the players in the men’s college game and has been compared to NBA sensation Stephen Curry.

It doesn’t take long to spot the Caitlin Clark effect at the Hawkeyes’ games. The team set a new attendance record in the last season, as 55,646 spectators poured in to watch her play in the 94-72 victory against DePaul at Kinnick Stadium. Ticket prices in her games rose by over 200% from the previous season and demand still outstripped supply.

If you don’t go to the games you can still follow her on TikTok, with Fox training a camera on her that’s transmitted on the social network. ESPN has even given one of its reporters the job of reporting exclusively on her. Televised Iowa games have been regularly smashing audience records and other popular players like Hannah Jump and Cameron Brink should help the sport continue to attract new fans. 

What Can We Expect When She Reaches the WNBA?

Some analysts believe that this year’s March Madness could be a turning point for the women’s game. It’s the third year that the NCAA has branded the men’s and women’s tournaments together and there’s genuine expectation that the women’s event could be just as popular as the men’s. 

Once the dust settles after the championship game at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio on April 7, Caitlin will be included in the WNBA draft to be held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York on April 15.

The Indiana Fever franchise has the first pick and it’s almost unthinkable that would choose anyone else. Their fans are already excited about the new superstar of women’s basketball playing for them. Some analysts expect Caitlin will lead the team to unprecedented success, while a giant mural showing her face has already appeared on the west side of Indianapolis, with the Fever and Hawkeyes logos also on it. 

Perhaps her lasting legacy in the pro league will be in giving the WNBA a higher profile that translates into bigger commercial deals. She’s already been seen in commercials for State Farm and Gatorade, while the WNBA’s media contract is set to expire in 2025. If Caitlin continues to impress, it seems certain that the league will be able to get a record deal.

Will She Help the Hawkeyes Win the Championship?

There’s no doubt that millions of people will be watching the Hawkeyes and hoping to see Caitlin Clark sink some of her famous three-pointers on the way to glory. Despite being top seeds, the route to championship glory isn’t going to be easy for Iowa and they’ll need their star player to be on top of her game. 

Watching Caitlin’s move into the pro game is going to be fascinating and it seems likely to move the WNBA onto a new level of popularity too.